Diversity, Education, Free Speech, Must Reads

Demoted and Placed on Probation

It all started in June 2018, when Quillette published my article, “Why Women Don’t Code,” and things picked up steam when Jordan Peterson shared a link to the article on his Twitter account. A burst of outrage and press coverage followed which I discussed in a follow-up piece. The original article was one of the ten most read pieces published by Quillette in 2018, and continues to generate interest. A recent YouTube video about it has been viewed over 120,000 times, as of this writing:

In his tweet promoting my article, Peterson took issue with one of my claims. I had written that I thought I could survive at the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science and Engineering where I work. Peterson disagreed:

As it turns out, Peterson was right. My position is not tenured and when my current three-year appointment came up for review in December, I was stripped of my primary teaching duties and given a highly unusual one-year probationary appointment. The administration insists this decision had nothing to do with the controversy generated by my article. But as I will explain, that seems highly unlikely. As one faculty colleague put it, an “angry mob” has been after me ever since my article came out.

The Intro Classes

In 2005, the University of Washington hired me to redesign their two introductory computer science classes. I developed two highly successful courses that have over 4,500 enrollments combined per year and are among the most highly rated 100-level courses at the University of Washington. In a recent internal survey, over 80 percent of the students agreed that the assignments increased their interest in computing and showed them how useful such knowledge can be. Teaching at this scale is a massive undertaking and for the last 15 years I have been responsible for overall management of the staff, instructors, and TAs who provide this service.

In response to my Quillette article, a group of graduate students in the Allen School filed a grievance against me with their union. The university agreed to several of their demands, including that, “A group of (mostly senior) faculty will review the introductory programming courses to ensure that they are inclusive of students from all backgrounds.” A working group was formed and it produced a set of recommendations. These included:

  • A relaxation of grading on coding style.
  • Allowing students to work together in a group for part of their grade instead of requiring them to complete all graded work individually.
  • Training for TAs in inclusion and implicit bias.
  • Review of all course materials for inclusiveness. For instance, of a lecture that involves calculating body mass index (BMI) using guidelines from the National Institutes of Health, the report noted that it “seems insensitive to present students with a program that would print out that some of them are ‘obese’ while others are ‘normal.’”
  • A reduction in the amount of effort expended pursuing cheating cases by 50 percent even though there has been no reduction in cheating cases.

The report also recommends that courses incorporate inclusiveness best practices as outlined in an Allen School document. These include:

  • The addition of an indigenous land acknowledgement to the syllabus.
  • The use of gender-neutral names like Alex and Jun instead of Alice and Bob.
  • The use of names that reflect a variety of cultural backgrounds: Xin, Sergey, Naveena, Tuan, Esteban, Sasha.
  • An avoidance of references that depend on cultural knowledge of sports, pop culture, theater, literature, or games.
  • The replacement of phrases like “you guys” with “folks” or “y’all.”
  • A declaration of instructors’ pronouns and a request for students’ pronoun preferences.

Most of these suggestions seem to rely on the notion that undergraduates are delicate. While I agree that we must be careful to ensure that all students feel welcome and respected, we should be helping our students to become antifragile. So I will continue to use the BMI example, I will maintain high standards for grading, and I will continue to pursue cheating cases vigorously. I will continue to say “you guys” and to make occasional cultural references. In the case of pronouns, I have always made an effort to accommodate requests from transgender students, but I refuse to use words that are not part of the English language.

It is the prerogative of the faculty to change the intro classes if they so choose. I understand that inclusive teaching is popular now, so it makes sense that others would want to move them in that direction. Even though this review was precipitated by my Quillette article, it is not in itself evidence that I am being treated differently on account of my political beliefs.

My Probation

What I find difficult to accept is that I was reappointed for just one year. The Allen School often hires adjunct and temporary lecturers for only one year, but that isn’t how it routinely treats lecturers with a regular appointment. In the 15 years I have been part of the school, I am the first regular lecturer to be offered less than a three-year extension.

The administration claims that my one-year reappointment is part of a more general change in the management of the intro classes, but that doesn’t make sense. They are perfectly within their rights to take management of intro away from me and even to forbid me from teaching intro classes. So why are they threatening my job security as well? I am able to teach a wide range of classes. I have mostly been teaching in intro recently because there have not been enough teaching cycles available for me to teach other things, but I have taught five different courses outside of intro. For each of the last seven years, the Allen School has been unable to hire enough lecturers to meet our needs, despite undertaking a nationwide search.

The one-year reappointment is also odd given my faculty rank. I was the first lecturer in the College of Engineering at UW to be promoted to the rank of principal lecturer. The faculty code indicates that the normal period for reappointment for a principal lecturer should be at least three years. The administration had to obtain special permission from the provost to make such a short appointment. It is also perhaps worth noting that I am the only current member of the faculty in the Allen School who has won the Distinguished Teaching Award, which is the highest award given for teaching at UW.

A faculty colleague told me he believes I am being fired for my political beliefs. He said it became clear during the meeting at which my reappointment was discussed that quite a few people wanted me to be summarily dismissed. Others said it was unacceptable to fire me outright. In the vote that was taken, faculty were asked to choose one of three options: no reappointment, a one-year reappointment, or a three-year reappointment. So the one-year appointment was the middle ground that allowed faculty to punish me without taking the most drastic available step just yet. I have the impression I am expected to feel grateful.

The students weighed in on the decision as well. A poster was plastered throughout the undergraduate labs and the student union encouraging students to visit a web address if they wished to express concern about my possible reappointment (reposted here). Critical student testimonies were collected in a letter to the dean urging her not to reappoint me.

Heterodox Teaching is Off Topic

Nor have my teaching evaluations slipped in recent years. I am, however, spending more time thinking about how to encourage viewpoint diversity. I have joined Heterodox Academy and have met with local members of the group. I attended the 2019 Heterodox Academy Conference and the 2018 faculty conference for the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). As part of the reappointment process, I was asked to describe what I’ve done and where I see myself going. I mentioned that I would like to expand my work on heterodox teaching.

The faculty members who reviewed my reappointment materials reported that they were “surprised” that I would mention my work in this area. They said that I have a right as a citizen to do this, but they also pointed out that the Allen School leadership had felt the need to respond publicly to my Quillette article (presumably a negative). They announced that my work in this area was not related to my professional responsibilities and should therefore be considered “off topic” and irrelevant to a review of my work performance and my consideration for reappointment.

This was particularly disappointing because I am doing some of my best teaching in this area. In the fall of 2018 I assigned Haidt and Lukianoff’s The Coddling of the American Mind as part of a seminar for honors students. I received my highest scores ever for this seminar (an average of 5.0 on a 5-point scale). Here are two representative comments from the student evaluations:

We were asked to share our personal opinions and the reasoning behind them, without any fear of being shamed or irrationally responded to. This allowed for meaningful discussions to develop, and a level of vulnerability in answering questions and discussing various topics that I have experienced nowhere else in the university setting.

This class really made me think about the way we have learned to perceive the world, especially in regards to tolerance [of] conflicting viewpoints. It made me realize that although we sometimes advocate for diverse opinions, we often shut down a certain group of opinions, which is hypocritical and very dangerous. I think that in order to learn and grow, we have to hear viewpoints that we disagree with, which is unfortunately not something that happens often enough in our society.

The Affirmative Action Bake Sale

An event in the spring of 2019 provides an illustrative example of the mob mentality at the university. The state legislature was considering an initiative to reinstate affirmative action. In response, the UW College Republicans organized an affirmative action bake sale, at which cookies were sold to Asians for $1.50, to whites for $1, and to African Americans and Hispanics for 50 cents. Cookies were free to Native Americans. This kind of stunt has a long history on college campuses. It drew an angry response from students and police had a difficult time keeping the peace. One protestor threw a tray of cookies to the ground, but otherwise there was no violence.

I attended the event to see how it was received and ended up having an hour-long conversation with a young woman about race relations on campus. When I was able to speak to her directly, we were able to understand our different perspectives and how we came to different conclusions about the value of affirmative action. But she was also playing to a gathering crowd, inviting them to join her in condemning me. One young man said to me, “How did you get tenure?” When I said that I didn’t have tenure he said, “Good! Because you’re not going to get it.”

The Stranger published an article about the event which included photographs of my interactions with the young woman. I was quoted as saying, “I don’t see racism on campus,” and the article’s authors reported that the crowd laughed when a student retorted that this is because I’m white. But, as footage of our exchange captured by a local news team later confirmed, what I actually said was “I don’t see rampant racism on campus.” A small but important difference between a denial of ongoing racism and a disagreement about its prevalence.

A local conservative talk show host named Jason Rantz was at the bake sale and made his own recordings. In two articles about the event, Rantz posted a five-minute audio excerpt of my exchange with the young woman, during which we debated whether group identity is more important than judging people as individuals. Anyone interested in assessing the attitude I bring to these conversations can listen to that exchange and judge me accordingly. Nevertheless, the day after the article in the Stranger appeared, I received a message from the director of the Allen School which included this:

…in my opinion, this is not about freedom of speech, and it’s also not about affirmative action, on which there are obviously multiple views that could legitimately be debated and discussed. This is about your lack of sensitivity to minority students and your continued (and almost gleeful) denial of their experiences, which I find extremely regrettable and disappointing coming from somebody of your stature and experience.

He later told me that his judgment was based entirely on the misreported quote. He didn’t ask me what had happened. He didn’t ask if the quote was accurate. He simply concluded that I was insensitive to minority students. How he decided that I was “almost gleeful” is beyond me, but it indicates a reflexive disapproval among some my colleagues since the publication of my Quillette essay.

A few days later, a blogger identified as “Anonymous Husky” called for me to be fired in a Medium post entitled, “Why the UW Computer Science Department Can Do Better than Stuart Reges.” The article mentioned the bake sale, my Quillette article, and my protest against the war on drugs that led me to be fired from Stanford in 1991. It was emailed to every member of the computer science faculty and many of the undergraduate TAs I work with.

The New Closet

I spent New Year’s Eve of my senior year of high school in a hospital because I almost succeeded in taking my own life with a bottle of rat poison. I was a young gay person who couldn’t face telling people I was a member of that hated group known as “homosexuals.” Although it was a dark period, that experience provided me with a source of strength later in life. If I was so unacceptable that I thought it was better to be dead than alive, then what was to be lost by telling people what I really think? By the time I got to Stanford as a graduate student in 1979, I was openly gay. Not many people were at the time. When I started teaching at the university, I found that many gay people wanted to talk to me but almost always in private. They would tell me that they couldn’t afford to be as open as I was.

But even I felt the pressure to conform. In 1982, I applied for my dream job. The Stanford Computer Science Department was hiring someone to manage the intro courses. I was doing the job on a temporary basis, but they were looking to appoint a permanent staff member. Unfortunately, their search concluded just after the Stanford Daily published a full-page article I had written entitled, “On Being Gay: Feelings and Perceptions.” The chair of the department told me that they wanted to offer me the job, but that they had been embarrassed by my article. They wanted me to promise never to publish such an article again. I had an opportunity to be brave and refuse his request, but I didn’t. I said that I couldn’t make that promise but that I didn’t feel the need to publish any more articles any time soon. That was enough to get me hired. And I didn’t write any articles for the next three years until we got a new chair who told me I could publish whatever I wanted.

Over the course of my life, it has been astonishing to watch anti-gay sentiment reverse. Today, the people on campus who need to worry about expressing their ideas are conservatives and religious people. Now it is gays doing the punishing of anyone who opposes gay marriage, gay adoption, hate speech codes, and civil rights protection for gays. Everything old is new again. I’m once again having private conversations behind closed doors in my office with closeted individuals, but this time they are students, faculty, staff, and alumni who oppose the equity agenda. They are deeply concerned about the university’s direction, but they are also afraid of jeopardizing their current or future job prospects. They also worry about losing friendships and professional relationships. One faculty colleague described it as “mob rule.”

Stanley Fish describes this situation well in his recent book The First:

These students, often a minority, but a minority with a loud voice, tend to be wholly persuaded of the rightness of their views; they don’t see why they should be forced to listen to, or even be in the presence of, views they know to be false. They wish to institute what I would call a “virtue regime,” where people who say the right kind of thing get to speak or teach and those who are on the wrong side of history (as they see it) don’t.

As a result, I can’t bring myself to look down on the closeted individuals who offer me support behind closed doors. The threat is real, just as it was when I compromised my principles to get a job nearly 40 years ago.

I am concerned that people believe free speech is improving on college campuses when in fact things are getting worse. We have fewer overt examples of speakers being shouted down and disinvited, but now the censorship is going underground. Those who talk to me behind closed doors censor themselves because they know the consequences of speaking up. As the economist Timur Kuran has explained, this preference falsification is extremely dangerous because it prevents us from having the meaningful conversations necessary to find practical solutions to problems.

So I understand why many people will choose to stay silent. I did it myself aged 23 when I stopped writing articles about being gay so that I could be hired into my dream job. But I’m older now and although I don’t have what people call “fuck you money,” I have enough saved that I can afford to speak my mind. For the rest of you, remember Jordan Peterson’s admonition: “Watch what you say. Or else.”

Stuart Reges is a Principal Lecturer at the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering at the University of Washington.  You can find out more about him at stuartreges.com and he can be contacted at sreges@gmail.com.

Comments

  1. I’m once again having private conversations behind closed doors in my office with closeted individuals […] They are deeply concerned about the university’s direction, but they are also afraid of jeopardizing their current or future job prospects. They also worry about losing friendships and professional relationships.

    Interesting. I’ve read similar things about Islamic revolutions and their countries’ universities, and later the counter-revolutions. It’s probably hard to be a pro-Beijing university student in Hong Kong right now.

    There seems to be something inherent in university culture which tends to silencing people who go against whatever’s trendy right now, whether that be homophobia or pro/anti-Islam or identity politics or whatever. Institutions which are supposed to promote free thought actually promote conformism.

  2. You’re being put through the grinder.

    Firstly, you need to diversity your income if you’re still reliant on a paycheque. Fortunately, you teach a desired skill. Start uploading your tutorials to youtube or elsewhere. Keep them from 10 - 20 minutes long . Leave all politics out of those, and monitor comments to delete any from those who are looking for a fight. Set up an account with SubscribeStar or some other patron funding site, but not Patreon because Jack Conte is a 'effing coward.

    Secondly, retain a good lawyer. Though the uni has deep pockets, also target individuals irrespective of their financial status in other lawsuits. Whether they are admin, faculty, or student squeeze them hard and painfully. In the course of this appear on some news programmes to discuss the harassment campaign against you. It’ll be very helpful if you have some female former students speak on your behalf. You’re waging both a legal and a PR battle, so you need to raise money through a crowd funding scheme. Battling the left, especially the uni left, is one that captures attention and money. If possible, conduct interviews with youtube personalities like Jordan Peterson, Dave Rubin, Gad Saad, Joe Rogan, etc. Make sure your interviews highlight how you were trying to understand why women weren’t attracted to coding and what specific actions could you do to make it more enticing. Present yourself not only as an advocated for academic freedom but also for helping women.

  3. “This class really made me think about the way we have learned to perceive the world, especially in regards to tolerance [of] conflicting viewpoints. It made me realize that although we sometimes advocate for diverse opinions, we often shut down a certain group of opinions, which is hypocritical and very dangerous.” Says it all, Professor Reges. You are incontrovertibly guilty of the heinous crime of presenting counter-narrative information that is factual, and also true, once again.

    Your brush with death appears to have affected you in one of the familiar ways; you found the courage to live life in as honest a fashion as you could conceptualize and embody. For that, you were vilified in your youth, have been vilified as a cultural gatekeeper and you will be vilified in perpetuity if you persist in this rash and heedless course of action.

    Carry on, Sir, and may you find comfort in knowing that you stood up, when those depending on you for guidance in their quest to learn how to live in the world, needed you most.

    For what it’s worth (perhaps not much at all,) be advised that those who you assisted in learning to think for themselves will carry your legacy to others in perpetuity. You’ve dropped a stone into the pond that represents the mind of men, and the ripples will continue on, inter-generationally.

    I recently received a telephone call from a mentor of mine with whom I haven’t had more than a very brief conversation in over thirty years. When I began spending time with him on a regular basis, he was fairly recently back from Vietnam, and our friendship developed over a period of some years, including shared building projects back in the '70’s. We spoke of those times, and I pointed out to him, what I say to you now; you have no idea how the utility of your words will pass from person to person and span generations.

    I shared with him how his words to me, spoken those many years ago, have been passed on to young folks that have turned to me for advice and information about how to survive and thrive in the world. One sentence, uttered by him over forty years ago, has been passed on to dozens of young men and women, who now have children and are passing those words on to them. They pass those words on because they represent ideas and actions that have fundamental utility.

    You have sown the wind, Professor, have begun to reap the whirlwind of which you were warned (and had prior experience of,) and now must survive and thrive as best you can. I wish you well, and sincerely hope you may find solace, and a reinforcement of your will to endure, in the knowledge that you will have done some good in the world and it will live on after you are gone.

    As Doc Peterson might say, that’s not nothing.

  4. It’s just one more addition to a long line of epithets used by the privileged to demean the working class of America. Others include such chestnuts as cracker, hick, yokel, rube, hillbilly, redneck. They have always been pretty common in certain circles in the States, but until Obama’s reference abbreviated as bitter-clingers I hadn’t seen such derogatory language used in a modern presidential campaign. Hillary seems to have decided to push it further.

    It’s instructive to rewatch Clinton’s use of the term, there’s a video embedded in the article below. Pay attention to the audience reaction; Clinton may be the one using the term, but it’s the audience happily supporting her in using it that is truly discouraging.

    If you read the article, you’ll also note that this was in fact the second time she used it; it wasn’t an accidental slip.

  5. The term is used by a significant number of California “pseudo-Liberals” in reference to those living in America’s “flyover country,” as well as anyone local that utters anything not mortally insulting to the current president, Jeremy. Several are members of my “family of choice,” a few of them bright young women with their hearts in the right place but severely infected with TDS. Where el presidente is concerned, they display a decided streak of moronism. They’re otherwise quite stable, but have never been exposed to businessmen not on their best public behavior, as I have, and thus were severely traumatized by the election results.

    We had a choice between a hooligan and a harridan, and the choice is necessarily informed by self-conception of one’s strongest skills at self-preservation. The ladies, in particular, among the group to which I refer, felt much better able to cope with a harridan. Possibly a case of immunization through lived experience.

    I refer to them as “pseudo-liberals” because they have visited the American South and truly believe that racially insulting speech absolutely requires a jail term, or at least hefty fines and closely-supervised community service. I view that outrage over insulting speech as a byproduct of being raised in a formerly-liberal part of California. They can hardly believe that their dear ol’ Ted insists that violent activity and direct incitement is where the law must draw that line, not on the basis of some academically arrived-at potential threat that disgusting speech must necessarily precede violence.

    I remind them of what we all heard from certain adults, when we were growing up, and challenge them to tell me of even one instance where cousin “S” or uncle “J” had ever so much as verbally mistreated any member of a group that they had privately insulted. I remind them that that’s one of the reasons why we have a second amendment, and that the real racism was when “liberal” California began its gun-grabbing only when the Panthers armed themselves. However dim in the collective memory, COINTELPRO lives on in infamy.

    Edit: The COINTELPRO reference is a digression, but by now, you’ve probably come to expect that from me.

  6. Between McCain’s depreciating some voters as “crazies” in 2016 or Romney’s 47% are looking for handouts in 2012, the elitist attitude inhabits both parties. To add to a point I made on another thread, there is a similarity to Brexit. In Britain there were elitists displaying the same oblivious attitude in both party leaderships while their “deplorables”, “crazies”, or “47%” were split between the same parties. In the case following Brexit, the Tories proved more flexible in their response to voters while Labor doubled down. I think the left is making the same error in the USA and may experience the same disastrous results.

    Wonderful choice, we live in interesting times.

  7. A working group was formed and it produced a set of recommendations. These included:

    • A relaxation of grading on coding style.

    Note to American employers: continue hiring from overseas.

  8. Standing back a bit, to see the forest rather than focusing on the trees, I note DIE (Diversity, Inclusion and Excellence) Newspeak has been harnessed to in surreptitious - and perhaps desperate) assistance of constant inflation of the University Bubble. Looking past the idea that we must use any and all methods to get more female students into any particular discipline reveals the willingness to use any and all methods to get more students into university in general and, yes, different departments are in direct competition with each other despite their protestations to the contrary.

    As in every Ponzi scheme, getting new people into it is necessary for it to continue as they pay whatever dividends are being disbursed to those who came before. In this case, the now vast administrations of universities, notably the rapidly expanding Diversocracy, are the “previous investors” in the UniPonzi Scheme now collecting their dividends which are unsustainable without an ever-growing host of new students to pay them. DIE is (among many other things) just another method for doing so despite - or indeed because of - its ostensible focus on STEM fields as ones which might at least pay back the debt incurred in this investment.

  9. What is I think paticularily revealing is that the proposed actions to promote inclusivity fall into two broad areas. The first is to lower standards and make it easier for student to complete the course without using their own efforts. (Lower coding standards, group work, less effort to prevent cheating). The second is to try to remove anything that might be perceived in the slightest way as negative or unfamiliar.
    This reveals an extraordinary contempt for those that the inclusivity is supposed to be helping. Implicitly they are regarded as less able, more prone to cheat, and discouraged by the most minor social friction. The use of phrases like y’all, the avoidance of any cultural references at all, and the avoidance of any names from the lecturers own culture is deeply patronising. It treats adult students as superficial infantile children incapable of functioning if exposed to even the most minor cultural differences.

    The impression I get is of a cynical hypocritical and self serving elite who conform to an orthodoxy paying lip service to it, destroying anyone who deviates from it but acting entirely through self interest and a fear of being revealed as a heretic.

    How did we get to this state? The number of true believers must be tiny.

  10. I think articles like this are particularly important because they take the new “progressive” movement seriously.

    Almost everybody I know rolls their eyes at some of the progressive agenda or at the occasional activist, but they decide to be polite and let them be. They consider them misguided, but big-hearted and harmless. I was kinda like that too before the Demore incident. I couldn’t believe that he got fired for that memo after having read it in full. It’s also common for people I talk to to be genuinely surprised by that incident.

    To be honest, I still think that most of them are well-meaning and I really empathize with them. That being said, as this article so beautifully points out, there have to be boundaries otherwise we’ll just replace one evil with another (I’d argue, a much bigger one).

  11. I particularly enjoyed the recommendation to go easier on cheaters…The other ones you can spin a little, but I can’t imagine even a semi-logical reasoning behind this one.

  12. I’m very sorry the author is going through this.
    That said, I have two observations:

    1. I’m so tired of “heterodox” professors blaming students for this neo-Maoism. The students are pawns, and they are a very small minority of actual students, despite the impression via screaming deranged students or students who Tweet. They only have power because of a) a few far-more-deranged professors and b) venal administrators and leadership.

    If the leadership didn’t roll over or - more commonly - send strong signals of support, or lend outright support for these extremest, nasty students who get joy out of others’ misery and joy out of deranged revenge, the students would have no power.

    That is, the students’ power is entirely dependent on powerful adults. They have no power on their own. Without the administration supporting them or professors inculcating them with the ‘correct’ viewpoints, and without the Pravda-like media bolstering them, they would fade away.

    My own children have all gone to ‘elite’ colleges, and I’ve taught in one (adjunct, nothing fancy I should add!)–on the ground, the view is quite different. There is a sizable portion of students who actively disagree with the insanity but who can’t say anything for fear of either getting a low grade from deranged professors or for fear of having an unhinged fellow student ‘report’ them. Then there is the largest portion who are bystanders, not having any strong view but simply wanting to party, get an education, get a girl/boyfriend, and so on. Then there is the very small group of students, I’d say no more than 10%, who actively participate.

    The views come from the top–The classroom or the President her/himself. In one of the schools my kids have gone to, the President regularly sent out messages to parents/students/faculty about sanctuary cities, migrant rights, equity, etc. (The President lives in a mansion supplied by the college, with ten foot high walls, but I digress.)

    There are multiple examples of professors going to protests, encouraging students. In my own kids’ cases, dozens of classes you would never think have anything to do with the New Left Ideology, are indoctrination classes. Just to give one example among many, one of my kids was told in his foreign language class - he is ostensibly learning the language - that he was “not allowed” to use the phrase “illegal immigrants” on any essay, since “no person is illegal.” Every week they talked in the foreign language about the ‘resistance’ and so on. The oral test was about Greta Thunberg (not joking) and it was obvious what you were expected to say. In the foreign language of course.

    The other day a Yale psychiatry professor Bandy Lee diagnosed half the country as shared psychotics because they were Trump supporters. She is so certain of her deranged beliefs she is willing to Tweet this publicly. My point is that one of her Tweets stated confidently that there were very few Trump supporter students at Yale anymore, ‘thankfully.’ How did she know? Is she a mind reader? Are the students required to register with her? She simply imagines that since she is superior in intelligence and Yale students are too (in her mind) they therefore must not be Trump supporters. She knows because she knows. And this is a professor at Yale.

    At any event, this is the sort of person who is allowing the insanity, not the students.

    2.I’m sorry, but to be surprised this is going on is naive. This has been building forever. Back in the 1980s when I was considering whether to get my PhD in English, I decided against it precisely because I saw a bunch of bitter, nasty people writing about things literally no one would read, following each others’ views like lemmings, stabbing each other in the back just to scrabble to a slightly higher position in the petty hierarchy of sub-specialities. I saw brilliant people ditch their potential and instead spend literally their entire lives on, say, two female poets in the early 1800s. Such warping of intelligence, suc groupthin and subjectivity in advancement is going to produce a cadre of warped people. It is self-selecting. There is no place anymore in academia for vision and greatness. As Einstein said, “Great spirits have always encountered opposition from mediocre minds. The mediocre mind is incapable of understanding the man who refuses to bow blindly to conventional prejudices and chooses instead to express his opinions courageously and honestly.” Universities have become rigid gatekeepers to the most suffocating mediocrity. Those who aren’t mediocre are punished.

  13. All you need to do is sit in on the classes. The link you provide doesn’t debunk anything. I’m not saying all professors indoctrinate students. I’m saying there is a very sizable, nasty minority of them, and they, along with administrators, are creating an environment in which you can be violently punished for speaking your mind. If you don’t believe me, go to classes at (insert elite institution here) and say you’re a Trump supporter, and write “illegal immigrant” on your papers, and defend the wall, and so on. My own kid got an F on a paper in a sociology class where previously he’d gotten all A’s because he wrote a paper that criticized Hilary. (He appealed and it went all the way to the dean; he was fortunate that the dean was in favor of free speech, and the professor was forced to acknowledge there was no objective reason for the grade, and had to regrade.) You have to have your eyes closed to not see all this. Or you have to believe the ideology and believe it is “truth” and therefore not indoctrination.

  14. I agree with your point that these recommendations imply that to have greater diversity, we have to lower standards. It’s the old soft bigotry of low expectations.

    I heard this for many years about attracting women to the field, that we had to make the courses easier so that more women would take the courses. My belief has been that the best way to convince someone that they belong in a field is to teach a challenging course and then provide the resources to allow students to do well. If you do well in an easy course, it tells you nothing about whether you belong in a field. But when you do well in a challenging course, you get a strong positive indication that you should consider majoring in that subject. That has worked well for me over many years to convince many women to consider computer science even though they weren’t thinking about it before they took my class.

  15. What’s most galling about this demotion is the hypocrisy of the graduate student critics. After the 2018 article was published the students wrote a rebuttal in which they:

    … agree that that having critical, uncomfortable discussions is a productive and crucial component of an institution premised on the free exchange of ideas. Such discussions demand a few things: first, a shared interest in developing the best ideas possible; second, an interest in well-developed, logically sound arguments; and third, a willingness to have one’s arguments subject to rigorous (and charitable) analysis.

    This is the exact sort of response that should have been pursued by critics, especially critics in the academic field. But it’s never enough for these people to win the argument, is it? They have to censure the person uttering the dissenting opinion so their little academic fiefdom is protected from the “critical, uncomfortable discussions” they claim to embrace.

    So, copying Mao Zedong’s Anti-Rightist Campaign, the students calling for “productive and crucial’ discussion” filed a grievance within a month of commencing their “discussion”.

    Blatant hypocrisy. And to make things worse, it’s hypocrisy accompanied by blatant cowardice.

    This is evident in the students’ refusal to expressly state that Reges’ comments are the direct cause of harm. Instead, they imply that Reges’ opinion is part of a wider problem of “gender harassment” in the faculty, which is “as damaging to women’s success and professional advancement as the more egregious forms of sexual harassment” (or so the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine claims).

    If the actual problem with was the Allen School, the students shouldn’t have trouble providing examples of other academics, syllabuses or guidelines that are perpetuating this gender harassment. Reges’ comments would be the straw that broke the camel’s back, but the critics could easily list many other examples to demonstrate that the problem is with the faculty, not a lone academic.

    But of course, they don’t do this, because their problem is solely with Reges’ opinion piece. They want “a clear and aggressive response” for his ‘crime’ of having a different opinion to them, but they’re too spineless to say it outright. Instead, they delegate the punishment to the faceless university bureaucracy, who inevitably play the role of executioner - most likely because of their fear that the students will write a Medium piece ‘implying’ that management is somehow enabling harassment.

    I hope that university administrators realise what is happening pretty damned soon, and start pushing back against cowardly hypocrites who, reluctant to dole out ‘justice’ themselves, are increasingly laying this burden on universities themselves. If not, well, I can’t wait for an occasion where they overstep so badly that governments (or perhaps the courts) are forced to give them a binding reminder of their role as higher education institutes, not babysitters for fragile radicals who can’t find work in the real world.

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